Members of a petroleum workers’ union in Assam decided to resume transporting fuel to Meghalaya on Friday, a day after it stopped the services in view of reports of attacks on vehicles in the neighbouring state, reported PTI.
On Thursday, the Assam Petroleum Mazdoor Union had written to oil marketing companies informing them that its members will not load fuel on to tankers. The union had said that vehicles with number plates from Assam are being attacked in Meghalaya.
The attacks took place over the last couple of days after five villagers and an Assam Forest Guard official were killed in firing by the Assam Police along the state’s border with Meghalaya. After the firing, several cases of stone-throwing have been reported from Meghalaya, and at least five vehicles from outside the state have been set ablaze in different parts of the state.
The union decided to resume transporting fuel after Meghalaya authorities assured that its drivers, tankers and staff would be safe. “But we have also told them that if any untoward situation happens, we will immediately stop the vehicles once again,” Ramen Das, the general secretary of the union, told PTI.
Das said he has put forth conditions to resume the services, including not sending tankers to Meghalaya after dusk till the situation normalises. He added that seven tankers with petroleum products have left for the neighbouring state from the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited Betkuchi depot in Guwahati.
After the union’s decision on Thursday to stop services, the Meghalaya government had directed local authorities to give police protection to trucks transporting essential items and oil tankers entering the state from Assam, according to PTI.
State Food and Civil Supplies Director Pravin Bakshi gave the directions in letters addressed to the deputy collectors of at least seven districts. “Necessary arrangements for patrolling/providing police escorts wherever possible may kindly be explored on all national highways to ensure smooth movement of vehicles carrying essential commodities,” Bakshi wrote.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday had assured Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma of a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the firing incident. Shah said that a similar request was made by Assam.
On Wednesday, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the firing by the state police on Tuesday appeared to have been unnecessary and unprovoked.
The chief minister, however, claimed that the incident was not related to the border dispute between the two states. “The firing was a fall-out of the clash between locals of Meghalaya and forest and police personnel of Assam and not a border clash,” he said.